Television as a political weapon

There were more than a few people in Bahrain who felt that the TV coverage of the Grand Prix was decidedly strange – and not up to the usual high standards that the sport has been used to in recent years. In the old days, individual Grands Prix were televised by different local broadcasting organisations and that meant that the coverage was patchy and that fans would find themselves screaming at their TVs as the local directors ordered the cameras to follow the local heroes, even if they were only wombling along in a dull 17th place.

The urge to create more consistent coverage was the motivation behind  the gradual disappearance of the old “host broadcasters” and the coverage of the sport being created almost exclusively by Formula One Management (FOM), the TV production and distribution business of the Formula One group. These days the only remaining host broadcaster is Télé Monte Carlo, which provides the coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix. All the other races now use a world feed produced by FOM from its mobile production unit that travels to all the races. This is fine as long as the TV producers are left to operate as they would in a normal media operation and do not show any favouritism to one team or another. If that is the case, the TV feed basically ceases to be journalism and becomes propaganda. This has always been a bit of a fine line and it is why democracies have always relied on either commercial TV stations or have created independent but government-funded broadcasters to ensure that coverage is fair and balanced. One tends to pay limited attention to state television that only provides a one-sided view of events.

When you stop and think about it, however, having a TV production company that is part of the Commercial Rights Holder organisation does leave the way open for abuse. Normally no-one in F1 thinks twice about this but there have been a couple of times in the past when questions have been asked, notably a few years ago in Bahrain when Force India decided to sit out a session after some of the team staff witnessed some of the rioting going on at that time.

This year, you would have to be a forensic scientist to find traces of the Manor team in race coverage. Admittedly, the cars are not up to speed but it has sometimes felt as though the cameras were avoiding Manor cars. The odd thing was that this was the impression in Bahrain, in relation to Mercedes Benz.

Now it is pretty hard to avoid showing the leader of a motor race, particularly if there is a fight going on at the front, but it was very definitely what some people thought as we watched Saubers when the battle at the front was tense and interesting. One could not put this down to incompetence because of the usually high standards of the production work, so questions were asked.

One might ask what a team gets (or loses) from the amount of coverage it receives and the answer to that is very clearly money. Teams get paid by their results on the track, but also from the amount of time that their cars are seen on TV. If someone can control the amount of TV time that a team gets then one can affect these numbers and so make it harder to raise money. Last year coverage of Mercedes was almost at saturation point and that looked good when the end of season reports came in showing the advertising value equivalency (AVE) figures for Mercedes – and the brands featured on the cars. Reducing the time that a car is seen on screen is thus a way to reduce AVE and to make the property less valuable.

One hopes that TV coverage is not being used as a political weapon.

132 thoughts on “Television as a political weapon

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed something unusual in the coverage. Other than Bernie’s continued campaign against Manor’s existence, I couldn’t quite place what was up – but I think you hit the nail on the head. (As usual, I might add!)

  2. This also occurred to me and I had to remind myself at times that there was no battle for the front – Lewis had it sorted, they just didn’t show it.

    They also chose to cut away from overtakes to show practically anything else they could at times.

    1. Yeah I noticed it and have noticed it all season to be honest. Seems coverage this year is poor full stop – whether intentional or not. There was a couple of missed overtakes and pit exits in Bahrain.

      Did I read somewhere that there is a new Production Manager in charge of what’s being shown? Sorry if Production Manager is not the right title – not really up to speed with ym TV job roles!

      1. The vision director actually calls the shots but I presume he or she will have some form of producer (titles vary a lot even between broadcasters) stating what is required by them upstairs.

        The thing is I can see why Hamilton didn’t get much coverage – that was often the same for Seb’s lights to flag victories over several years. But if Rosberg was avoided then that starts to look deliberate. I recall seeing Rosberg battling with Vettel on the feed so clearly they couldn’t excise them entirely.

        I do know a lot of people at BBC Sports and a few other broadcasters though and they have made their thoughts known on FOMs ‘artistic’ decisions.

      2. I agree about the coverage being poorer this year generally. It isn’t missing cars that I notice so much as poor choices on what to show: this time an arty shot of a grandstand panning slowly to the racetrack with the result that we missed a crucial overtake. Replay is fine and good, but it shouldn’t have to compensate for that sort of thing. They would start an onboard lap and then cut away before a key corner. We do seem to be seeing a lot of shots of people in garages and on balconies who I suppose I should recognise, but I’d rather see the cars racing.

    2. Has anyone asked the director if there’s instructions on who to show? If there’s a ‘blacklist’?

      Maybe they wouldn’t answer the question, but it would be interesting to see the reaction.

      1. Irrespective of whether its incompetence, politics or malice net result is the same – poorer coverage which ultimately detracts from the spectacle and viewer satisfaction. Its sad that the ‘competition’ does have a stench of something fishy associated to it these days. Some may revel in such machinations – for those who are purely interested in what was once a sport, this aspect is being taken away from us.

  3. It was quite apparent that after the Australian fiasco, the Manor car was invisible going to Malaysia. It got a bit better with the next two races. What you say about the Mercedes cars last weekend, I didn’t notice interestingly. Maybe because I got bored by their dominance a bit anyway.

  4. It’s debateable. Were Manor up to such a standard that they are worthy of having the cameras on them? I mean in previous years, they were locked in battle with Caterham and quite rightly we saw one or two of those tense battles. At the moment, Manor don’t appear to be locked in a battle with any other team at the back. You could say that they were just “wombling” around. The only time I recall seeing a Manor car was when they were being lapped – which perhaps speaks volumes.

    1. If Manor had withdrew and made a late entry to GP2, back-to-back qualifying times would have got pole for Will Stevens by a massive 0.106 seconds ahead of Vandoorne in an aging Dallara. .

      Why is nobody talking about how good these new-era F1 cars are?

  5. Sadly for Manor, do they have actual sponsor on the car? If not then I guess FOM will concentrate on the other moving advertising boards? Plus BE did say to EJ on BBC that he doesnt want them there. So I guess FOM will act as if they werent?

    1. And what message did BE send out when he said that to EJ. KIds watching saw an example of a struggling team trying to play with the big boys being kicked down by the referee. Yes boys and girls if you want to get involved and start at the bottom, dont bother because some sad old clown will be there to make it as hard as possible for you. Disgrace. Our future generation of racers should not be subjected to this political farce. Oh and where is Todt by the way, I must have missed his resignation speach, can someone let me know who got the job.

      1. “Oh and where is Todt by the way, I must have missed his resignation speech, can someone let me know who got the job.” Love it, DD Clutch! Question du jour!!

      2. I realised that I’m completely fed up with Bernie when I muted the TV as soon as he came on, and went to get snacks and drinks for the race. My protest at his idiotic behaviour, especially lately.

  6. yeh, the Manor situation sucks. i know on Sky F1 coverage, it’s been “suggested” that it was a move from Bernie in retaliation for Australia. if you think back to the race, was there ever a reply of the two Manor cars going side by side down the main straight, pushing each other towards the wall. we only know that because it was in the back of a shot. we never saw Stevens take Mehri in the last couple of races.

  7. Was pleasantly surprised to see the Manor’s on TV a bit more in Bahrain and immediately thought “I wonder how they’ve got Bernie back on side”.

  8. And what about those strange in-race headline overlays:-
    ‘The Battle for 1st’ – for example . . .
    When the three cars are spread out in a long line with several hundred metres between each.

    Thank god for MotoGP – where ‘battle’ has more significance.

  9. If Manor or some upstanding citizen of a European country was to suggest to the EU competition folks that this was an area to investigate it may actually gain some traction and be grounds to break up the rights as they are currently allocated. Playing favorites with payments to teams AND coverage on TV should be enough cause for action.

    1. Furthermore to this point, is it only me who is questioning why Manor are allegedly smacked with a bill/fine of $2M for a lack of ‘trying’ at Australia because their cars are unable to take to the track and contest qualifying however no one bats an eyelid when one of McLaren’s cars doesn’t make an appearance in quali and is prevented from racing as a ‘precaution’? Double standards anyone?

  10. Considering that FOM does all it’s own broadcasting it really begs the question:
    Why aren’t they streaming F1 directly to the public?

    Surely getting money directly from the public would fill their coffers even more.
    The question is actually further compounded by the fact that Tata is involved.

    They could do deals with Netflix or Amazon where an extra F1 package can be purchased either annually or per race. Or at least where old races can be watched later.
    I wish World Rugby (IRB) would do the same.

    1. Not really – each time the contracts are up for renewal, Bernie/FOM encourages a bidding war between rival broadcasters in a given territory in order to maximise his/their income. It then becomes the problem of the broadcaster to turn a profit (or not, in the case of the BBC) by selling access and/or advertising.

      If FOM sold it directly – or via Netflix/Amazon/etc – over the internet to punters, it wouldn’t be long before most fans would just wait until the race was over and the show appeared on their favourite torrent site.

      It would also increase FOM’s costs considerably, as they’d need to hire enough presentation and commentary crews to cover every major (and a few minor) languages…

      Much more effective to take a big wad of cash from each TV company and not spend most of it.

    2. They make much more money by selling the rights directly to terrestrial broadcasters and traditional pay networks. There isn’t as much money selling it a la carte on the Internet and by doing do you risk alienating those that are paying the bill. Eventually the model will change. For example over here if you subscribe to a traditional cable service you get the coverage of that channel streamed as part of the package.

  11. With FOM control over event contracting, trackside advertising, hospitality, technical rule-making, transportation and broadcasting the rule seems to be that where CVC can profit they will, by whatever means are required. Am I wrong? Hope springs eternal, as they say, but this is reality.

  12. I think that the coverage was poor in that a couple of occasions the director seemed more interested in the spectators (either famous or cute) then in the racing going on.
    Not sure about the Merc’s getting less Airtime but its definitely something I’ll watch for next races.

    As for Manor, I think its a bit strange what’s going on but I hope they will keep on being in F1 for the coming years.

  13. As usual, a fascinating point, heavy with implications . . . and potential consequences, should team principles feel that they are being victimised in this way. Do the various contracts between the CRH and the teams mention this point? If not, as mentioned above, this could be a VERY interesting legal achilles heel, not thought of by Bernie’s high powered £1000/h lawyers!

    Thanks for the piece, Joe, brilliantly thought-provoking.

    1. Hi Doc

      As a follower of your own excellent blog, do you still plan to post the final instalment of the Sailant denouement including the dodgy hdossier, or have you decided to leave it all behind in Europe and that they’re not worth it. Wouldn’t blame if you if that’s the case. But loving what you’ve been revealing. Not only are they scumbags, but the seem very amateurish scumbags.

      Anyway, glad you’re enjoying your new home!

      David.

      1. We are still waiting to see Tony Blair’s dossier, so the FIA file may be another few years yet.
        It does seem to me though that with the current rules, the incumbent President can pretty easily prevent/block any other challenger at re-election time as was done at the last election. Let us hope for change.

  14. I actually thought that the coverage of Raikkonen’s charge was well-covered – the cameras focused on it and the tension mounted. Hamilton barely featured, but then he was rarely under threat. Would be interesting to compare with the amount of coverage that Schumacher or Vettel got in the days that they trundled round at the front all day.

    The Manors featured occasionally when they were being lapped, from about half-distance onwards, but we rarely saw them apart from that. On the other hand, they were circulating some distance apart from each other and miles behind anybody else, so there probably wasn’t much action around them.

    One thing I have noticed is that the season-ending DVDs often feature coverage that didn’t appear on TV at the time. I noticed that Vettel’s ‘off’ was covered only from the rearward-facing camera, even though the mistake he made was a front-end one – i.e., we didn’t see his steering input or the angle of the front wheels at the time. Also, we didn’t get to see the on-board coverage of Rosberg’s ‘fading brakes’ moment towards the end, even though it was one of the key moments of the race – the culmination of a 20-lap fightback from Kimi. Might they be keeping these ones for later?

    1. Red Bull actually complained back during Seb’s dominance – you hardly saw him apart from lights out and flag fall…

      In one way you can understand it, the director is going to always choose to fill the minutes with images of cars close together rather than someone off cruising to victory. The acid test this year is likely to be if Rosberg is ignored as much as Lewis (out in the lead).

  15. Thanks Joe. I have been thinking about this too, and I would be livid if I were the boss of Manor (or indeed of Force India last time this skulduggery was suspected). The very business model of some F1 teams seems to be: get some sponsors to pay you, stick their logos on your car and get those logos shown to millions of TV viewers. Happy team boss gets to run his/her cars around and happy sponsor gets cheap TV advertising (based on the huge audiences worldwide). If this is being manipulated by someone, then someone ought to consider how that might start to impact the business, not limited to the ability to attract sponsors…though on the face of it that doesn’t seem to be a concern. I wonder if the teams’ agreements with the CRH say anything about “fair” distribution of TV airtime.

    1. It used to be the business model of all teams. Though it was hardly cheap for the sponsor. But with the drying up of promotional budgets it becomes essential that those who do sponsor cars get proper exposure on tv. Bernie has already cut the possible audience by going on to Pay tv channels in several countries. So sponsorship becomes a less attractive way to spend the promotional budget.

      But all the small teams rely upon sponsorship for their very existence, Ironically though, Bernie gets paid even if nobody watches at all.

      If I were CVC even though F1 is a tiny fraction of their income, I would be looking to unload it before it collapses.
      The original structure of the finances would only work in certain market conditions for so many years. He only has to go back to basic marketing and look at the bathtub curve to see that the current structure is mature and about to fall rapidly. Big and basic changes are necessary, but if the political and commercial agreements and/or alliances prevent change, then stand well clear.

      1. Dear Joe, all
        Rpaco- ‘bathtub curve’ – have never heard the term before. Would you be so kind as to explain it, please??
        Cheers
        MarkR

        1. Well I’m sure you could have looked it up, mind you its from when I was taught basic marketing. (4Ps +S etc) 40years ago. Its actually an inverted bathtub. Start at the taps and climb as the business grows toward the plughole, then a period of stability as it goes along the upturned bottom eg. horizontally, as the market become saturated and can expand no more. Then finally as the market changes, in type or distribution channel or competition or price point. It tails off rapidly and falls down the far end of the bath to zero. (Normally the demand curve would loose elasticity as it enters saturation period. ie no longer respond to price vs demand principles. Then it must rely on a fixed demand level and cannot change unless the conditions change. The marketing man changes those conditions or the product dies.
          The Philips Marketing courses pioneered the concept of marketing during the product focused period, where all attention was paid to product features. Prior to that was the Sales era. Neither of these could cope with the changing conditions, particularly in the proliferation of competition with the original 4 UK brands being attacked by the many Japanese marques. The distribution channel was of major importance back then too and many feet were shot by greedy sales managers.

          Nowt to do with F1 really so I wont be surprised if Joe doesn’t publish it. But I would say we are near the end of the flat bathtub bottom with F1 the end of the saturated period. Things need to change to prevent product death.

    2. That has to be the ideal for the sport. The promoter promotes the sport, venues host the sport warning revenue from trackside advertising (could be shared with the prize fund to promote some consistency between venues) and ticket sales, competitors earn funds from advertising on the car. The more successful they are, the more they can charge for advertising space.
      You might then get situations where a dominant team (shall we say one with three points on its badge?) might direct it’s drivers to slow down a bit to create action thereby getting more TV coverage. Sorry, cynical ment there!
      As for not seeing Manor, we always used to get the “wow, he’s already lapping someone” moment. Can’t remember seeing that yet this season…

  16. Probably just Bernie using all the weapons at his disposal to show Manor they are not welcome and push Toto to become a bit more compliant. Above board? Not really. Can it be proven? No way.

      1. Not at all, you made an observation and reported it that’s your job isn’t it?

        Vastly different from for example the Montagny case where you made a very subjective observation, jumped to a -wrong- conclusion without checking the -available- facts and then took the easy way out by saying you lack the time to check how other sports handle doping matters or how similar cases are handled.

        Not that I don’t value your opinion but it would credit you if you were able to sometimes admit your opinion was a bit meh… in hindsight of course 😉

        1. It’s not Joe’s job actually. He’s offering an outlet for fans to voice to voice an opinion based on a considered point of view – no article no replies. You’d do well to remember this – after all, he published your reply didn’t he? Putting a smilely face at the end doesn’t excuse bad manners.

          1. Not sure stating a disagreement to an opinion and expressing one’s own perspective is bad manners. It would be a pretty boring world if we all agreed on everything (and Joe would be out of a job which wouldn’t be good for anyone except the short one!).

            1. It’s rather the tone Bob. There’s a difference isn’t it there when one pursues a point – effectively as a guest after all – then makes a snide reference to the journalistic capabilities of the person who writes the blog, in their opinion of course. We all have opinions, it’s how we express them isn’t it? Some ‘correspondents’ cross the line and are downright rude. “It’s your job” does that in my view – but in the end it’s up to Joe to decide but some people were obviously not brought up properly. End of sermon.

              1. Come now Stephem, where was Joe’s (rather exquisite) journalistic capabilities being called into question? Admission of error of judgement/position was what Jefe was referring to. Jefe was far more polite than many a reposite that Joe himself has made to several posters on this blog. This is SOCIAL media – guest or no guest, if one can’t stand the heat…go back to traditional forms of publication I say.

                1. Sorry Bob, this is not Twitter or Facebook but someone’s blog, which happens to allow replies. Sure, Joe can be short but there again it’s his blog. He also has to learn a living and I sometimes wonder how he finds the time – most blogs by F1 journalists don’t reply. We don’t see the really insulting replies. Many a time Joe has threatened to stop for that reason. I don’t subscribe to the idea that ‘anything goes’ just because it’s on the internet and it’s ‘anonymous’ – good manners don’t cost anything only some intellect and some self respect, never mind towards others.

                  1. Agreed, its not Twitter or FB however the most successful blogs (still a form of social media nonetheless) are those that engage with their readers and actively encourage debate and open discussion. If this aspect is removed, the readership numbers will fall away – its not a completely altruistic motivation. The blog acts as a vehicle to promote GP+ – were I a respected independent journalist I too would adopt this model – the blog serves as a platform to demonstrate the quality of the journalist’s work which will lead to a bleed through of increased subscription sales of the revenue generating work. I’ll also maintain Jefe’s response was consistent with the (healthy) tone that the blog owner has cultivated and promoted – forthright but polite. Final thought…good manners works both ways – I subscribe to the idea of doing to others whatever you would like them to do to you. Even if we agree to disagree on specific points, may I say I’ve enjoyed this debate with you.

    1. > Can it be proven? No way.

      Maybe not yet, but as we’ve seen before in F1, with Spygate and Singapore ’08, whistleblowers have a habit of coming out of the woodwork when you least expect them…

  17. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Some bad cuts but that’s not unusual. The Manor cars weren’t doing ANYTHING but being lapped. Why would the director want to show them?

  18. Hum, so the commercial rights owner can pull the strings of the TV output. Me thinks that it’s a direct conflict of interest.

    Could the EU be encouraged to rake a look at this?

    The whole situation sucks, a move to pay TV, teams struggling to egg sponsorship….. Etc etc.

    Do sky release their viewer numbers? Do BBC release theirs?

    It’s all a bit of a mess if you ask me!

    1. I no longer hold out hope the EU will have any sort of bonafide look, not after all this time, probably the key folk are in the the same clubs as BE and CVC.

    2. I’ve been wondering about this too Clive. It’s called ‘abuse of a dominant position’ isn’t it? In an earlier post N Weingart lists all the things FOM control, ie just about everything.

      Martin

  19. Glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that the coverage on Sunday was flat. One of the rare occasions that circumstances meant that I was able to watch the whole race uninterrupted. I should have enjoyed it lots but didn’t. Thanks Joe; as always, a post that makes you think long and hard.

  20. Given NBCSN’s apparent attempt to show us nothing but commercials, I wasn’t able to notice what you’re talking about.

    With more experience under their belt, they’ve become far better at cutting away from the action just as some actual racing thing is about to happen. Then, after 3.5 minutes away from the action, upon return they don’t go back to covering the race, they instead show us some prefab montage about something that doesn’t matter but which some NBC suit evidently thinks is pretty.

    1. The BBC coverage is far superior to what we get in the US, that’s for sure. After watching the race on BBCiPlayer, the failings of not having your presenter’s in attendance really show up. It’s clear that the F-1 fraternity give the Beeb much more access and the lack of commercial breaks keep the continuity of the “process of racing” going. Storylines are not just 5 minute blurbs, but can be followed throughout the race.

      1. Yah, having to watch the Canadian coverage (TSN) is terrible too (but less so than the US). So many commercials randomly through all the good parts (smack dab in the middle of a sentence). At least it’s the BBC feed I think, those few minutes that aren’t commercials get quality presentation (i.e. people at the track).

        When Speed was showing the races, the presenters were just terrible; no clue what was going on, getting the cars and drivers confused…thank god the web exists so I can actually get good news between races (and a GP+ subscription this year for good measure).

        1. Speed’s coverage was 100 times less-bad than what happens now… what used to be annoying has become downright painful…

    2. I watched one of the races last year on NBC when I was in the US, it was quite simply ridiculous – more commercials than race coverage!

      1. Yes, and to add insult to injury in the US of A you have to pay extra to the cable company to even get the broadcast. So, not only are you paying to see the show, you are actually paying to suffer through the commercials also. I watch the Sky or BBC coverage on the intewebs or download a torrent later in the day. With the races so early (5:00 am) here on the west coast the live option has pretty much become ridiculous. We’ve all had the discussion here about FOM providing a pay stream; I wish they would because I would gladly pay a reasonable fee. Oh well.

    3. Oh boy ….I sure found out how wonderful Sky/BBC coverage was when I saw the NBCSN broadcast. Effectually a 2 hr commercial with a few racing highlights interspersed with adds for upcoming NBCSN shows.This provides the commentators ample airings of the 4 most dreaded words in motorsport…

      ‘While We Were Away….’

      Like Joni said.
      “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”

  21. Joe, thanks agains for your fascinating insights.
    There is one more thing about TV couverage that I would like to ask you about: Has anyone in F1 ever complained about the huge (and quite easily to discern) CGI-Ads that FOM increasingly seems to place at the side of tracks?

    To me, they are annoying to the point that I have at times considered switching off the TV. They distract from the racing (good for Pirelli, Rolex, et al. admittedly) – but worse: they take away the feeling of reality being shown and make the whole races seem much more artificial.

    If I can’t trust the TV feed to accurately show me the things happening beside the track – than, as a viewer, I start to questing whether I can trust them to accurately show me the things happening on the track.

    1. Blame cricket and football (and the American version) for that. F1 is a latecomer to that particular overlay technique.

      1. And just thank your lucky stars that Bernie hasn’t realised that CGI- Ads could very easily be placed all over that huge black strip of track to really ruin it for you.

        1. He already has, there were Rolex overlays (and the obligatory “Forza Jules” one too) at Abu Dhabi last year.

  22. Feeling the lack of Manor coverage also – they deserve every ounce of support, but they could make their cars more interesting to look at. If a producer’s mission is to serve car-based advertising to keep the sponsors happy, I understand why they look where they do.

  23. How about practice coverage? I’ve never seen such a poor show, they missed all the fastest laps in Q3 except for the last few hundred meters. Bernie just has to go.

  24. Whether by accident or design, the coverage is certainly not what it could be or what it has been at times in the recent past. Selecting which camera to take a feed from at any moment to show the race at it’s best takes a very skilled team, but I would have said the Manor cars were on screen during the race well on par with any other team that’s being lapped as often as they were. It’s difficult to know what action we missed, but what seemed to jar more than anything else to me was an overuse of replays – sometimes repeated from several angles rather than a sharp eye on the live action.

  25. Someone with no understanding of F1’s prize money distribution may suggest Bernie is just spreading the valuable screen time around so that all teams benefit, not just the leaders.

    But we know better than those people.

    1. Dear Bernie,

      With over spphisticated camera work, your production team are unable to capture the speed of F1. When cameras follow the cars so closely, how are the public able to understand the velocity of what they are seeing?

      Let’s make things more simple and think about properly producing the show we all love, again.

      Yours sincerely

      Disgruntled F1 Fan

  26. I was appalled after watching Eddie Jordan’s interview with Bernie Ecclestone at the week-end. He openly admitted that he hoped manor Racing would fail to survive in 2015.His total disrespect for the sacrifices made by the loyal workforce and the commitment of the new investor and management just to make it to the first race, was repaid by a two million pound fine. This greedy little man has done nothing but line his pockets over the last number of years, with no interest in the sport or the hundreds of people whose very livelihood depends on the survival of the smaller teams. Mr Ecclestone could buy Manor Racing with the loose change in his pocket, but that would involve both compassion, and some passion for the sport, neither of which Beanie possesses.Give something back Bernie before it’s too late. As a wise man once said, “There are no pockets in a shroud.”

      1. I don’t think there was a fine, as such.

        Graham Lowdon’s response was interesting though. He wouldn’t give a straight “yes” to the question “have you been paid [by FOM]”? I’m assuming Bernie is doing what all honest businessmen do, and isn’t paying his bills in the hope his creditor goes bust.

        1. Lowdon’s reluctance to give a straight “yes” implied the answer was a “no” (to some degree or another).

        2. Well, as the contracts are secret and confidential, Lowdon confirming any details (such as how much or indeed when /whether etc they did or did not yet get money they are to receive) might have been a breach of the contract there Arctictroll.

    1. I am pretty sure that Bernie, when asked by Eddie Jordan confirmed that he did not dock Manor any money as the contract does not allow for it (afterall the FIA deemed they had done enough in Australia).

  27. Funny, I did feel annoyed at times watching the last race – the Ferraris looked nice under the lights and were featured – maybe the camera people thought they looked nicer so showed them more? I recall shots of the RBR and STR cars from side-rear angles, so the nose and helmet was not visible so I had no idea who it was. I was frustrated by long shots with FIndia and Alonso’s McLaren mixed together, just dark enough that you can’t really tell for sure who was where, the cars similar looking from far. What a joke, the helmet design rule when the FIndia seems to be morphing into a recent McLaren paint scheme so now we have six silverish cars – if we see the McLaren head-on, no problem. The only helmets we actually see are Kimi and Seb. Glad Sauber went blue and yellow and are no longer grey shadows of the silver cars. That said, I loved the race!

  28. I listened to the race on radio in the uk as was driving home, most of the coverage was on vettels unforced errors and who ever rosberg was racing. About halfway through they begain to focus on kimi, lewis mentioned regularly normally with the words controlling the gap or safe. So cameras missing Hamilton i can understand but if they were missing rosberg something is wrong as the story of the race should have been the same. the radio presenter mention Stevens once or twice but more focused on where he was from (surrey if you were wondering.) if there was a second manor in the race they did not mention it.

  29. I’m sure I’ve seen Stevens’ onboard for quite a while (Saturday, I think) and it was a nice surprise.
    There’s always more to guess about the CRH preferences – I don’t mind seeing Carmen Jorda from time to time, but then I realize that she’s supporting the women racing series idea. And so on…

  30. A very interesting point you have raised, with Ferrari, Sauber and possibly Mercedes Benz receiving the majority of the coverage, and Manor, Lotus and Force India receiving very little or virtually no coverage! But most surprising of all the lack of coverage of the Red Bull team cars, has the ‘close’ relationship between the Red Bull management and owner broken down with Ecclestone? Until this ‘midget’ leaves F1 , he will continual to run it into the ground. He is destroying all the hard work he has done over the past 40 years for the sake of more power and money! If he is not careful he will leave the ‘Sport’ in a worse situation than when he took it over!

    1. I’m glad someone else noticed the absence of RB. (TBH, the BBC coverage mentioned it too during the post-race interview with Horner).
      Very strange I thought bearing in mind the relationship between BE and CH.

      1. Hum. A snub from BE towards Red Bull – punishment for threatening to quit.

        CVC need to realise it’s time to pension of BE for the good of the sport.

  31. Interesting, now that you mention it.

    I have this idea that Vettel was not good with traffic, but it is entirely possible that on the few times he has had to come from the back through the field as a Red Bull driver, if the FOM coverage of him has been patchy or non-existent, that could have informed my view, compared to say, Lewis, who plenty of times, I have seen manouvering past cars to get to the front.

    Who controls the footage and attendances for the press conferences, as, after it was mentioned previously either here or James Allen’s site, that someone might be avoiding the Manor cars, I was surprised to see Will Stevens at a press conference, with no-one attempting to avoid showing him.

    Missed opportunity not getting sponsor logos onto his team t-shirt.

  32. I nearly fell off my chair when we saw in car footage of Will Stevens after Q1 on Saturday. I hadn’t realised quite how invisible Manor had been until I saw one.

  33. Part of the problem as mentioned in a post above is that, it’s all very well having these fantastic cameras – Super HD, flying wires etc. – but it’s completely pointless if they don’t project the awesomeness in terms of speed, direction change etc. This is something that F1 has done appallingly in recent years.

    An example would be a recent video going around the internet taken from a fixed camera mount looking up the hill at Eau Rouge. The first clip is a GP race of some description, which is then followed by an F1 clip. The difference is staggering, and the reason it’s gone viral is the amount of people saying/commenting ‘Jesus CHRIST F1 IS FAST!!!’ or something of a similar vein…

    This is where, in my opinion, TV is failing massively, regardless of any political tweaking that may or may not be going on.

    1. (Plus, don’t forget that when footage needn’t be found, it won’t be. Hoi polloi are only shown what FOM/Fai want them to see…)

  34. Dangerous game if true. I like many others pay to watch F1 now and I’ll stop if I think I’m not getting full value. Another good post Joe.

  35. Can’t agree with you on this one Joe – the Mercedes were covered when they were “DOING” something (Like Rosberg passing – or getting passed by Vettel). As ever, Rosberg never made an attempt to put a pass on Hamilton, so why would this be worth watching? I’m not sure what part of Rosberg toddling along behind Hamilton that you found “tense” but I can only think that your threshold for that word is lower than mine.

    Manor? This is nothing new. I don’t remember the cameras doing much coverage of Minardi either…

    There are two incredibly boring things in F1 – an unchallenged leading driver, and a team languishing a lap or laps down.

  36. I have to say that Manor was more visible than at previous races, this time actually showing the leaders passing them.

    Still no showing of them by themselves or overtaking team mates.

  37. I noticed this in the previous GPs, the Manor cars finishing is of interest but you never even saw them barring the start and a few times being lapped

  38. Great article.

    There is definitely something funny going on with the coverage. Many times I found myself looking at the timing screen to find out what was happening. They also completely missed how Vettel’s undercut nearly led to him passing Hamilton. Only moving to Ham/Vet/Ros as Hamilton exited the pits.

    I am fortunate that I have sky and can do my own following on the red button but this just proves that they are doing something as normally I avoid the red button as the coverage is normally very good.

    1. You’d better not watch Indycar then Jimbo.
      Talking heads turkeys completely missed the eventual winner of the race overtaking the until then race leader, after a great pit stop lead to the lead change. Took them a while before they had an ‘oh, wait?’ moment…..

  39. Next year we are to have high speed cameras on the cars in order to record collisions. Drivers are also to wear “in the ear” accelerometers.

    So accidents will be available in slow motion.

  40. Why the directors think we are interested in looking at boring celebs or people on the prat perches watching the race is beyond me. Just film the cars and show the cars racing. And no cutaways to a driver being interviewed…keep filming the cars and we just need audio for interviews during a race…

  41. Don’t really agree with regards to Mercedes during the Bahrain Gp as I recall seeing them whenever we needed to. We saw Rosberg’s overtakes on the Ferrari’s, We saw both during the pit stops & while the battle was fairly close right after the stops & again towards the end when Kimi was gaining.
    You say the battle at the front was “Close & interesting” & at times it was & we saw it, But for the most part Lewis had the race under control with a big enough gap to Nico that it wasn’t really worth sticking with the Mercedes, Especially when the racing further back was closer with far more overtaking or potential overtakes to watch (Bottas/Vettel later on for example).

    With regards to Manor, No point in really showing them running around well of the pace, Not in a battle with anyone, Nor overtaking anyone when there’s good racing going on elsewhere.
    Its not really any different to the past, We rarely saw much of the Minardi’s when they were on ther eown at the back, Not the HRT’s & the only time we saw anything of the Marussia/Caterham’s during the races the last few years was when they were racing/overtaking each other which obviously Manor are not doing right now.

    The directing isn’t always perfect (Or upto FOM’s F1 Digital+ standards of 1997-2002) but for the most part this year I feel like most of the close racing & overtaking has been captured & I can’t say i’ve felt like something has been missed or the coverage has been bad.
    Its also indefinitely better than the host broadcaster coverage we used to have to put up with & I’d also argue that for the most part the actual direction & amount of action captured is still above just about every other category.

  42. Not at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but at the coverage of 2015 races before this, I seem to have noticed a slight avoidance of McLaren Honda cars in the footage except for some random shots. Perhaps it’s just the Alonso fan in me kicking in…

  43. The coverage has been unrelentingly poor this year, by design or through incompetence i can’t say but the result is the same. The big story at the end of the race was Kimi catching Nico, but the director seemed completely oblivious to this, preferring instead to endlessly follow Seb failing to overtake Valterri. I now have to pay for my F1 feed and think the standard should reflect this.

  44. Joe,

    Maybe I’m wrong but Bernie really does seem to have it in for Manor. Can you tell us what if anything they’ve done to get up his nose?

    It started off with him saying he didn’t want to pay for 11 teams when he only needed 10 (which never made much sense in terms of negotiating leverage vs cost of the 11th team, but at least it made some kind of sense).

    Now he’s only got 10 teams, and seems to be trying hard to make that 9 (at least until Haas appear).

    Pat Symonds has spoken highly of their professionalism. If they’re playing a bit close to the line because of their funding issues, well you could say the same about half the midfield at the moment. And it’s not as if the cars on track are doing outrageously poorly; we’re not in Andrea Moda territory or worse. So what’s the beef?

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